Y’all can all thank Ruth Thorton Thayer for what you’re about to receive…
I watched “Darkest Hour” last night, the story of Winston Churchill and his experiences at the beginning of WWII. One of the reasons that I am such a fan of Churchill was his wit, his command of the English language, and his forthrightness about his own shortcomings. He is one of the first to ever publicly describe his chronic depression as “the black dog” at a time when a stiff upper lip was the only acceptable way for a manly man to project himself. As one who has experience with both(black dogs and occasional depression), I have always felt a certain kinship with the portly Prime Minister.
This is the time of year that many experience greater feelings of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder, loneliness or even the recent loss of a loved one, many things seem to unleash the beast, so to speak. I was considering doing a serious post on this very subject when Ruth reminded me of one of the most depressive times of my life. It was this time of year, 2014 BC (Before Charlie); ladies and gentlemen, here we go, a Christmas tradition:
The Infamous Poop Story.
As many know, I landed on a stump due to a motorcycle incident back in aught fourteen that left me with a ruptured colon. No, no, no, I didn’t land on it THAT way, so get that visual out of your head as there’s much better to come. I impacted it abdomen first, left lower quadrant, resulting in a seven day hospital stay and a shiny new colostomy bag.
I am NOT a good patient. Furthermore, I was in total mental lockdown, not even wanting to admit to myself that I would be pooping for the foreseeable future into the equivalent of a zip lock baggie glued to my gut. When the nurse came in to discuss the care and feeding of Rollie the Remora, my brain refused to comprehend the unintelligible garbled sounds she was making. JoAnn was busy taking extensive notes; I was engrossed with my phone, discovering that denial was more than just a river in Egypt.
The one part of the conversation that I did pick up on was that I wouldn’t have to wear the apparatus whilst in the shower. Well, well, well, I thought; I guess I know where I’ll be spending the majority of my time over the next few months.
And so it happened. I hadn’t been home from the hospital very long when I took another shower. Early in the morning, no breakfast or coffee to get things percolating, what could go wrong? If I had been listening, I would have known that this stoma could ignite without warning like a silent but deadly Vesuvius. But as I had NOT been listening, I assumed that I had nothing to fear.
I was so wrong.
There I was, buck nekkid as my buddy Marty used to say, when a cute little turd (poink!) jettisoned from my side. What many don’t know is that I kicked footbag, or hacky sack to many, for years. We did many appearances for local radio stations and even competed in the World Footbag Championships in Golden, Colorado. So my first reflex when I see something heading towards the floor that shouldn’t be on the floor is to catch it with my foot.
I’ll pause to let that visual germinate a bit.
Before I could come to grips with my predicament, my plumbing decided to identify as a poop Pez dispenser, and here came number two, so to speak. I’m sure that you can guess where I caught that one, but I’ll tell you anyway; the other foot.
Now what? Jo Ann was just on the other side of the bathroom door, but I can’t call her for assistance; who wants their wife to see them naked with a turd on each foot? Besides, what is she going to do but have a stroke laughing, or worse, snap a picture?
I was telling this story a while back while on a motorcycle trip out west. A stoic older bystander hadn’t even acknowledged that she was eavesdropping, but had to chime in when I said “what could JoAnn do anyway?” Her deadpan response:
“She had two feet, didn’t she?”
Anyway, before anything else could exude, I went goosestepping towards the toilet like a midget stormtrooper. After booting the offensive turdballs into the abyss, I decided that there was no way a single other soul would ever know about this sordid episode. I was as low as Job’s dog; deep in debt from the hospital bills, worried about my job, and I had just crapped on my own feet.
Then I thought that I just had to tell my buddy Marty, as no one laughed at a good poop story like the Martster. But If I told Marty, I would have to tell Fletch, then Zach and Kyle, as they would get all pissy if they found out that I had told Marty and not them. So, I might as well tell everybody.
A few years later I posted the story on this page. It got the result that you would expect, and I don’t disagree; what kind of nut job would tell that type of story on their worst enemy, let alone on themself? But what I didn’t expect was the emails and private messages from ostomy survivors who told me that they had kept their situation secret all their lives, some not even telling their own children. But there I was, talking about it to 30k readers like it was funny. Well, it is massively funny now, but I can assure you that it was NOT funny at the time.
Many of you have suffered terrible losses over the last year, losses that will no doubt affect how you experience this holiday season as well as every day afterward. I have no answers but to say “never forget the things about that person that made you laugh”.
There is no command that the black dog of depression responds to as effectively as the sound of laughter, even that of a small child. Do not withdraw into the darkness, seek out the tiniest glimmer of light, then share that light with someone else; sometimes that’s all that works for me.
We be of one blood, ye and I.
Any more suggestions, Ruth? Maybe the Story of the Barium Enema that even I won’t tell?